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Fruit and vegetable intake has fallen for teens

November 17, 2010|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times
  • Adults and teens are eating fewer vegetables than five years ago.
Adults and teens are eating fewer vegetables than five years ago. (Johannes Eisele / AFP / Getty…)

Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy diet and a healthy life -- so say nutrition experts who have pounded that message into Americans for many years now. However, their advice is falling on deaf ears. A report card released Wednesday shows that efforts to improve intake of fruits and vegetables are failing in many arenas.

For example, over the last five years, fruit intake for adults has risen only slightly while the percentage of adults who eat the recommended servings per day of vegetables has dropped. Teens are even worse. Compared with five years ago, fruit and vegetable consumption among this group has fallen from an average of 1.84 cups a day to an average of 1.76 cups a day.

Among younger children, the picture is somewhat better. Fruit consumption increased by 11% and vegetable intake by 3% in five years. Still, 88% of children do not eat the recommended amounts of fruit and and 92% don't eat enough vegetables.

The figures are featured in a report released Wednesday by the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance, a consortium of government, non-profit health organizations and industry groups that are working together to improve consumption. The organization is behind the public health campaign "Fruits & Vegetables -- More Matters."

Singled out for praise was the Women, Infants and Children program launched last year that provides vouchers specifically for purchase of fruits and vegetables.

The 2010 National Action Plan Report Card includes recommendations for improvement. Among then, the panel said, is to double the current U.S. Department of Agriculture spending on fruits and vegetables.

Moreover, work is needed to convince Americans that they want to eat fruits and vegetables more than they desire pretzels and potato chips. Some people say they don't eat fruits and vegetables because they taste bad, acknowledged Elizabeth Pivonka, a panel member and president of Produce for Better Health Foundation.

People need to try a broader variety of fruits and vegetables, she said in a news conference Wednesday. "We have a lot of work to do on that."


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